‘Have you heard of the routing app, Waze? It’s Israeli.’ my driver asked me, as I got in the car en route to the airport for my flight home. I could see the app predicting my arrival at the airport at 6:14pm, a full three hours before my flight. I loathed this seeming waste of time – a common phrase in my pre-CBS consulting career was ‘if you’ve never missed a flight, you’re getting to the airport to early’. But, we had been warned about the Tel Aviv Airport Security, and after accidentally going to Newark airport instead of JFK on my way to Israel, I couldn’t risk another stressful airport experience. I replied that No, I hadn’t heard of Waze and wondered if it was really that much better than Google Maps?
When my driver asked me how I had enjoyed his country, it was hard not to conceal my new found love for Israel. The food, the entrepreneurial spirit, the history… so many things flooded my mind. But being back in the states and reflecting on my trip, my favorite aspect by far is the people.
The Israeli culture is rich with history, religious background, and stories of both oppression and hope. And what I didn’t appreciate until my trip was the clear camaraderie that binds Israelis together. Whether this is because the nation is relatively young, because of the history of what the Israeli people have been through, or because of something else, is unclear. But the immediate closeness I witnessed time and again amongst Israelis was undeniable.
Over the course of the trip, we visited many companies. Three companies talked to us about the same recent sale of an Israeli start-up (Mobileye) to Intel for $15 Billiion. Even my cab driver brought it up to me. Most people spoke about the value of their army experience. And everyone talked about being focused on continuous improvement and their own internal hope.
Coming from the states, a country that in so many ways is about diversity, it’s striking to see such a degree of similarity across Israelis. I look forward to my next (and hopefully soon!) trip to Israel to further uncover its culture. And for the record, we pulled up to my gate at precisely 6:14.
Haley Smith, ’18 – Group A, #Israel #IsraelChazen